Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC

NASCAR Nationwide Series Live from Texas on ESPN2

The NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to superspeedway action this weekend at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. ESPN2 will have a live, high definition telecast of the 300-mile race on Saturday, April 4, beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC. The race re-airs Sunday, April 5, at 11 a.m. on ESPN Classic.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be the lap-by-lap announcer, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and two-time Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch will report from the pits, while two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.

Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown with analysis by Jarrett and Brad Daugherty, a winning team owner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in the ESPN pit studio.

Benson Joins Evernham, Daugherty on NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Benson will be a guest panelist on the NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion program on ESPN2. Host Allen Bestwick and Benson will be joined by ESPN analysts Ray Evernham and Brad Daugherty as they discuss the latest NASCAR news. The program airs at 1 a.m. Tuesday, April 7 (late Monday night). NASCAR Now is ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program.

Half-hour episodes of NASCAR Now air Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at 5 p.m. News of Thursday, April 2, will be presented in a program airing at midnight on Friday, April 3 (late Thursday night), while the next day’s program airs at 1:30 a.m. Saturday (late Friday night). The one-hour weekend edition, hosted by Mike Massaro, airs Sunday, April 5, at 10 a.m. with a preview of that day’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Now is hosted by Nicole Manske, Massaro and Bestwick and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include NASCAR Insiders Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said, Ricky Craven and Randy LaJoie, and reporters Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton. The NASCAR on ESPN team event coverage team of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Spake and Vince Welch also make frequent contributions to NASCAR Now.

Franchitti, Vickers On ESPN Platforms Tuesday, Wednesday

Drivers Dario Franchitti and Brian Vickers will visit the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., this week and will appear on various ESPN platforms Tuesday and Wednesday.

Franchitti, who drives in the IndyCar Series and raced in NASCAR last year, will be at ESPN on Tuesday. Franchitti will be on First Take on ESPN2 at approximately 11:40 a.m. and will then conduct a chat on at 12:30 p.m. He will do a live interview on ESPNEWS at 2:40 p.m. and appears on ESPN2’s NASCAR Now at 5 p.m. The IndyCar Series season opens this weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Vickers, who races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series, will be at ESPN on Wednesday. He appears on First Take at approximately 11:40 a.m., and then does a chat on at 2 p.m. before appearing on ESPNEWS at 2:40 p.m. Vickers does an interview on NASCAR Now at 5 p.m.

ESPN Classic Features Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be spotlighted in an episode of ESPN’s award-winning series SportsCentury airing Friday, April 3, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN Classic. The one-hour program airs again at 11 p.m.

The program traces Earnhardt’s career from the early days on North Carolina short tracks to his championship years in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, followed by his move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the shadow of his famous father.

NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing from Las Vegas on ESPN2

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series travels to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, and ESPN2 will air qualifying and eliminations action on a same-day basis. Qualifying action from the NHRA Nationals airs Saturday, April 4, at 8 p.m. ET, with eliminations airing Sunday at 4 p.m. Finals coverage re-airs Monday, April 6, at 10:30 a.m. on ESPN Classic.

As if Las Vegas weren’t loud and ostentatious enough in its own right, the city hosts the fire and fury of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series twice each year, this event in the spring and the crucial penultimate stop on the schedule in the fall. Contested at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a crown jewel befitting this glitzy city, the event has become a pivotal stop on the tour. Race teams often light up the scoreboard with performances one wouldn’t normally see at 2,100 feet.

Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage with analysis by 22-time NHRA winner Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff report from the pits. Rieff and Dunn host NHRA RaceDay on Sunday at 11 a.m. to set the stage for that day’s eliminations action.

NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series Featured Saturday on ESPN2

Action from the NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series airs Saturday, March 21, at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN2. The program features racing from the ACDelco Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. Dave Rieff hosts the coverage for ESPN2.

Featuring race vehicles that range from 5-second Top Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars to 15-second Stockers, the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series is the premier Sportsman series in drag racing. Eight categories are included in the series, which is showcased at select NHRA national events.

Other NHRA program on the ESPN Networks this week includes the airing of six episodes of NHRA Thrills and Spills on Saturday, April 4, beginning at 5 p.m. on ESPN Classic. The half-hour episodes feature the NHRA seasons of 2003-2008.

American Le Mans Series from St. Petersburg on ABC

The American Le Mans Series, a professional sports car endurance racing series based on the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be featured on ABC this weekend with a live telecast of the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. The race airs Saturday, April 4, at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The race, which will be contested on the St. Petersburg, Fla., downtown street circuit, will be the second of the season for the ALMS, which opened its campaign with the 12 Hours of Sebring. Many of the same drivers and teams will compete at St. Petersburg.

Greg Creamer will call the action for the telecast with analysis by former sports car racing standout Bill Adam. Dorsey Schroeder and Kelli Stavast will report from the pits.

Marathon of Long Beach Celebrity Races on ESPN Classic

The annual Toyota Celebrity-Pro Race at the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix has been a popular fixture for many years, and ESPN Classic takes a look back at six years of the event in a marathon on Saturday, April 4. Highlights of the races from 1998-2003 air in 30-minute programs beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Some of the celebrities who drove to victory during that six-year span include actor Josh Brolin and Peter Reckell and Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, while some of the pro winners were Danica Patrick, Derek Daly, Jeremy McGrath and Scott Pruett.

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